If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Florida, you should be prepared with what to do immediately following. Here’s 5 crucial steps to follow.
Did you know that in Florida alone, there are over 15 million licensed drivers?
That’s right! What’s more, there are also 570,000 registered motorcycles in the state!
With those many vehicles, it’s no wonder that car accidents are quite common in the Sunshine State. In fact, in 2017, Florida had a whopping 388,032 road crashes.
That said, it’s vital that you know what to do in case you get into a car accident in Florida. Especially since the state implements a “no-fault” law.
Don’t worry though, as that’s exactly what we’ll explain in this post. Keep reading to learn what you should do right after a car crash in Florida!
A Quick Overview of the Sunshine State’s No-Fault Law
Florida requires all vehicle owners to have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. The PIP coverage should be at least $10,000, which will pay for medical costs and lost wages. Motorists should also carry property damage liability coverage of at least $10,000.
These policies should cover motorists regardless of who caused the traffic accident. However, they only protect the policy owner and not the other party involved in the crash.
That said, your own PIP and PDL will cover you if you get in a car accident that’s not your fault. But if it’s a case of negligence in a car accident, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver.
One example is if one of the drivers sustained permanent injuries due to the crash. At-fault drivers may also be liable if their negligence caused traumatic brain injuries.
Now that you know a bit more about how auto insurance works in the state, here’s what you should do right after a car crash.
1. Dial 911 As Soon As You Get Into a Car Accident in Florida
Shock is most likely the first thing that you’ll feel when you get into a car collision. This “feeling” may make you too numb that you may not realize right away that you have injuries like broken bones.
As such, 911 is the first phone call you should make as soon as you stop your car. Also, if possible, don’t move your car from the crash site, except if it’s causing traffic.
Inform the 911 operator of the exact location of the crash. If you can, give specific details like highway mile markers and landmarks. The more details you provide, the sooner the police and paramedics can get to you.
One thing to avoid is explaining to the operator who caused the accident. The operator only needs to know where you are, the types (and extent) of injuries, and a description of the scene.
2. Call the Police to File an Accident Report
You don’t have to report all Florida car accidents to the police, such as a minor fender-bender. But if it’s a hit-and-run or a crash that caused personal or property damage worth $500 or more, call the police ASAP.
If you called 911 though, the operator should have notified the policy already.
What’s important is to call the police to report the accident, even if it may turn out to be a minor one. This is even more crucial in a hit-and-run crash, a collision due to negligence, or if the other driver is drunk.
3. Create a Detailed List of the Accident
While waiting for the police, list down what you can remember before the accident. For instance, try to remember the direction you were coming from before the other driver hit you. Was the traffic light green, red, or yellow?
Did you notice the other driver swerving, speeding, or any other symptoms of DUI? Maybe you’ve seen the other driver operating the vehicle while using a mobile phone. In this case, the other driver would have already been in breach of Senate Bill 76.
In case of a hit and run, list down everything you can remember about the other vehicle. The most important are the make, model, year, color, and plate number. Even small details, like stickers or bumper dents, will help the police find the culprit.
If the other driver stayed put at the scene, exchange vehicle and insurance details with them. List down the make, model, year, vehicle identification number, and license plate number. Ask for the complete name, address, date of birth, contact info, and license number of the other driver.
If the driver isn’t the owner of the car, ask for the vehicle owner’s complete name and contact details. Be sure to ask the police officers for their name, contact details, and badge number too.
4. Gather Evidence and Witness Accounts
Take clear photos and videos, including different angles of the involved vehicles. These images and recordings can also help identify weather conditions and road obstructions. Include street and traffic signs as part of your visual evidence too.
If possible, capture videos with sound, since this can hold clues of a person’s state. For instance, slurred speech may signify intoxication. You may even be able to record the other driver admitting fault.
In case you find a cooperative witness, ask if they can recount what they saw in a video. Ask them for their full name and contact information as well. Your insurance company may contact them for more information about your claim.
With such evidence in your hands, it would be difficult for the other driver to change their story. You can use it to counter disputes of what they said right after the accident.
5. Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company as soon as you can following a car accident. Your insurer will review your claim to determine the extent of the damage and who’s at fault.
Make the Claims Process Easier with the Help of a Personal Injury Lawyer
Granted, filing a claim for a car accident in Florida can be straightforward due to its no-fault law. However, you can still face difficulties and even unfair payout. This is even truer in case the negligence of the other driver caused the accident.
That’s why you should consider hiring a personal injury attorney if you get involved in a car crash. Especially one that you weren’t at fault of.
If you need an experienced car accident lawyer in Florida, we can help. Get in touch with us now so we can review your case for free as soon as possible!